Christmas Survival Skills

Reposted from the Toddler Guru blog by FCM Toddler House Teacher, Angie Ma

The holiday’s aren’t just stressful for adults. Remember, novelty is stressful for young children, too. That’s ok when we give children the tools to handle all of the business and stimulation of the holidays. If you have a toddler and you celebrate Christmas, remember these tips to keep the “NO!” out of Noel.

Needs

Sleep and Naps– The busiest time of year is not the time to skip naps or stay up late. If you find yourself breaking this cardinal rule, make sure you are still sticking to your regular bedtime routine.
Facetime- Spending time one-on-one when you are feeling present, relaxed and calm gives your child time to process his hectic day. You are his emotional anchor. Without face time, he’ll be adrift.

Order

Don’t Deck Every Hall- Yes, a tree in the house is very fun, but it’s also completely disrupting your toddler’s sense of order. Order helps your child make sense of her world. Be careful about completely turning the house upside-down and avoid visual clutter, if possible. Try to keep space that is decoration free, especially your child’s space. Avoid overstimulation by limiting background noise in the home and turning off the television whenever possible. Purposeful tasks, like watering the Christmas tree helps your child integrate all of these new experiences.

Routine- Routine is also part of this sense of order. When the routine or house become chaotic, children (and adults) can react by becoming very rigid. In a rigid state, toddlers refuse to incorporate novelty, can’t easily transition to new situations and try very hard to control other people, which is why you might hear the defiant, “NO!” at every turn. Return to your regular structure at home, set clear limits, provide purposeful tasks, and connect through face time to find normalcy again.

Expectations

What’s Up?- The holidays are full of new situations. You can set your child know what is going to happen and what you expect. For example, if a babysitter is coming so you can head out to the office Christmas party or you are going to invite your Child to sit on Santa’s lap he needs to know  ahead of time what is going on. If he is feeling emotional saying, “I see you are feeling sad. Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. You are going to have dinner, story time and bedtime and then I’ll be home. I’ll see you in the morning.” Calmy acknowledging his feelings, then offering a step-by-step explanation helps your child function during a challenging situation.

Limit

Holidays are often a time of excess. You often can’t control the amount of gifts, but your child won’t keep track of them all either. Put a few favorites out on the shelf and rotate the other gifts.

  • Toys without batteries, like wooden blocks, are a great choice.
  • Simplify some materials- An art set or even a box of crayons can be too much for your child to take care of independently. Try putting just two or three crayons in a small dish on a tray for drawing, a few pieces of chalk at the chalkboard or one or two pieces of clay on a tray. Have another tray with a few half-sheets of paper.
  • Don’t forget to set up a tray with a sponge and cloth for wiping the table!
Fingerpainting

Hopefully these strategies will help you create some wonderful holiday memories. Merry Christmas!

Montessori Language Materials

Contributed by Angie Ma, Follow the Child Montessori School Toddler House Lead Teacher 

Over the past six years we have amassed a huge collection of language materials for our Toddler House classrooms. According to our AMI Assistants to Infancy training, we rotate a selection of Real Objects or Replicas, Objects and Exact Matching Images or Objects and Photographs. Daily, we present the materials in individual and group lessons. The children also work with these materials individually during the work cycle. Of course, language is a part of the entire environment- the most important part during this Sensitive Period for language. The various language materials meet specific developmental needs.

  • Experience with real objects offers sensorial information, which is the foundation for language.
  • As seen in the image of the Large Sea Animals and Exact Image, this language materials offers a concrete representation, as the object perfectly eclipses the drawing, that the 2D image represents the 3D object.
  • Objects and Photographs, as seen with the rocks and minerals, allow the child to match an object or a replica of an object to a photograph.
  • In addition, we include numerous sets of Nomenclature Cards and other language cards depicting situations or a sequence of events.

Based on observations of the children and scientific research, I’ve added new materials in addition to these Montesesori materials. Reading Ellen Galinksy’s Mind In The Making, I learned of research that supports Montessori’s approach to teaching reading that is based on learning phonemes. We’ve added or modified various toddler materials like I Spy, Classified Fishing Bag, and Gluing Sound Cards that provide practice listening to and identifying phonemes.Visual recognition of words, Galinsky notes, is not proven to aid the child learning to read and may actually hinder this process.
She notes, howevers, that it is important for the child make the connection that words (nouns) are a representation of actual objects.

Just as the Objects and Exact Images material demonstrates to the child that the 2D image represents the 3D objects, Words and Matching Objects simply demonstrates for the child that the word represents the objects. In the presentation, we allow the child to pick a card and say, for example, “Frog! Can you put the frog next to the word, ‘frog.'” The picture ensures that the child correctly orients the word and allows the child to find the matching object independently.

I carefully consider any changes or modifications to the standard Montessori curriculum. I take comfort in the knowledge that Montessori was a scientist and would certainly have created to materials based on her observations and new scientific understanding.

For more on Follow the Child Montessori School, visit www.followthechild.org